BUTTE — Some were just out of high school when they went to war.
Some returned looking like men. Some didn’t return at all.
Butte Central High honored the memories of the alumni who left their childhood home to fight in World War II. A plaque bearing the names of the graduates from the early 1940s classes that served in the war was placed in a more prominent position in the school’s lobby.
A display honoring the veterans will be placed around it for all future students to see.
“And our kids will learn the value of what it is to give your life for our country, for our freedom that we have to just walk through these hallways, to live in this great city, to be Americans, it’s such a value we need to teach our children and for this next generation,” said Butte Central High Principal J.P. Williams.
Seaneen Prendergast brought a purple heart and bronze star medals that were awarded to her uncle James Dougherty, who joined the US Army after graduation and sent to France, where he died in heavy fighting in December of 1944.
“It’s incredible that an 18-year-old kid would do what he did knowing he could be killed,” said Prendergast.
And here’s the name of PFC James Dougherty. He had just graduated from Butte Central when he was sent to fight in World War II. He was just 18 years old when he was killed in combat. Same age as many of the seniors here today.
“Seriously, I can’t even begin to imagine having to go to war and just be at 18 years old and being sent over there. It’s crazy,” said 18-year-old Butte Center senior Brenden Roat.
The American Legion and Civic Air Patrol hosted a flag retiring ceremony that day as part of the event.
“I taught here for 7 years and I walked by the plaque every day and my students saw all of his things and heard what he did and, you know, if it makes it real how people died, so they had freedom, then it just makes me proud,” said Prendergast.
There were 26 former Butte Central Students who died in World War II, but there were many more from Butte who served.